Best Leg Workout You Can Do Without Equipment

Woman doing a lunge in living room

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When you don't have access to a gym, you may need to find more creative ways to build muscle. Fortunately, you don't have to look far for one of the best pieces of equipment we have free access to—body weight.

Studies show that performing simple bodyweight workouts at a challenging pace required no specialized equipment to create results. They also can be used to build our cardiorespiratory fitness, just as much as weighted exercises.

Of course, when you go to a gym you have access to weight machines and free weights, but that doesn't we should completely abandon body weight workouts. Here's what you need to know about leg workouts without equipment.

Benefits of Leg Workouts Without Equipment

One of the best things about a workout you can do without equipment is the convenience. You can do a body weight exercise almost anywhere including at home and even while traveling. All you need is your body weight to get an effective calorie burn.

Using high intensity body weight training is just as effective in building muscle mass and increasing physical performance as combined athletic and resistance training, according to recent studies. Research also found that home workouts were beneficial in alleviating weight gain, and decreasing the musculoskeletal pain conditions that increased due to a lack of activity.

Leg Workout You Can Do Without Equipment

This 20-minute workout will activate all of the muscles in the lower body using only your body weight. Complete each exercise for four rounds through at least 12 reps. For the alternating exercises, complete 12 total of that exercise. For the single-sided exercise, perform at 12 reps each side.

Try to complete these moves with little to no rest until the full set is complete, reaching the point of fatigue. Rest 1 to 2 minutes after each set before moving on. Here are the moves included in the workout.

Alternating Lunge

An alternating lunge will work your quads, and also allows you to work on balance and stability because you are shifting weight from one leg to the other. Here is how you do the alternating lunge.

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart.
  2. Step your right foot forward, bending your right knee and brining your left knee parallel to the floor.
  3. Drive through your right foot to bring yourself to the starting position.
  4. Step your left foot forward, bending your left knee and brining your right knee parallel to the floor.
  5. Drive through your left foot to bring yourself to the starting position.



Squats are an essential lower body exercise. Be sure to keep your chest high as your drive your hips back, and engage your core through the entirety of the movement. Here is how to do a squat.

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart.
  2. Bend your knees, lowering your hips as parallel to the ground as possible.
  3. Drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes to return to the starting position.

Alternating Lateral Lunge

Alternating lunges work the inner thighs, and also challenge the balance when you shift weight from one leg to the other. Here is how to incorporate this move.

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart.
  2. Step your right foot to the side and bend your right knee, pushing your weight back into your heels.
  3. Drive through your right foot to return to the starting position.
  4. Step your left foot to the side and bend your left knee, pushing your weight back into your heels.
  5. Drive through your right foot to return to the starting position.

Good Morning

The good morning works your hamstrings and uses the same motion as a deadlift, so you get all of the benefits of a deadlift without using any weight.

  1. Stand with your feet hip distance apart and your fingertips behind your head.
  2. Hinge at your hips, pushing your hips back with a slight bend in the knees. Stop when your body is parallel to the floor.
  3. Drive the weight into the heels to return to the standing position.

Calf Raises

Calf raises with build the calf muscles as well as challenge your balance. You can use a chair or wall to assist you with any instability.

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart.
  2. Lift your heels off of the ground, bringing yourself to your toes.
  3. Lower yourself to the starting position.

Clam Shells

Clam shells are a great glute workout. Be sure to keep the hips stacked over each other to get the maximum effect.

  1. Lay down on your right side with you hips stacked, and your head resting on your right bicep.
  2. Lift your left knee to the ceiling to open up the thighs, while keeping your heels together.
  3. Lower the left knee to return to the starting position.
  4. Flip over to your left side and repeat the exercise lifting the right knee. to the ceiling.

Glute Bridge

Glute Bridge

Glute bridges will fire up your glutes. The closer your heels are to your glutes, the less challenging the move will be. To add difficulty, step your feet further away from your glutes. Here is how you do the glute bridge.

  1. Lay down on your back with your knees bent and your feel flat on the ground.
  2. Squeeze your glutes and drive through your heels to lift your hips toward the ceiling.
  3. Return your to the starting position by lowing your hips until your back is flat on the floor.

How to Make Your Leg Workout Effective

Because there is no resistance from weights, to make your leg workout more challenging, you can create time under tension by slowing your tempo. A slower tempo is beneficial for low intensity exercises like body weight exercises.

Time under tension allows you to reach the point of fatigue sooner than when the body is put under similar exercise stress at a quicker rate. To make any move for challenging use a 3:1:1 tempo. This will create time under tension.

When you are in the eccentric part of the move (lengthening the muscle) go slow for a count of three. In the isometric part of the movement (holding the muscle) pause for one second. In the concentric part of the move (contracting the muscle) return to the starting position.

Another way to amp up the effectiveness of your leg workout is to either do it before an aerobic workout, or on another day all together. Studies show this is the best way to optimize the quality of a lower body workout.

Safety and Precautions

When doing a leg workout, form is key. Generally speaking, you don't want your knees to drive out too far over your toes in any type of squat or lunge motion. Avoid this motion to avoid putting any additional pressure on the knee. While it is OK if this happens by accident, you want it to be as minimal as possible.

A Word From Verywell

Working out your legs without equipment can be an effective and beneficial workout. Just remember to move quickly so that you benefit from the movements and get the most from your workout. Also, if you are new to exercise, you should talk with a healthcare provider to ensure these exercises are right for you. They can review your fitness level and your medical history and let you know if you could benefit from this workout.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you build leg muscles without weights?

    Yes. Any exercise that puts stress on the muscle will break it down, and as we rest and recover that muscle will build back up. This includes body weight exercises. Building muscle is less about how you stress the body, and more about making sure that you do stress the body.

  • Why is having strong legs important?

    Strong legs are important because they support your body and keep us balanced. Along with the core, they are the building blocks to lower body movement. Strong legs are also integral in preventing lower back pain.

  • What are the benefits of leg exercises?

    Leg exercises support your overall health by providing balance and stability, and help you with movement. The lower body contains the largest muscles in our body, keeping the legs functioning well will help support your movement in day-to-day activities as well as make it easier for you to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Martins FM, de Paula Souza A, Nunes PRP, et al. High-intensity body weight training is comparable to combined training in changes in muscle mass, physical performance, inflammatory markers and metabolic health in postmenopausal women at high risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Experimental Gerontology. 2018;107:108-115. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2018.02.016

  3. Shariat A, Ghannadi S, Anastasio AT, Rostad M, Cleland JA. Novel stretching and strength-building exercise recommendations for computer-based workers during the COVID-19 quarantine. Work. 2020;66(4):739-749. doi:10.3233/WOR-203220

  4. Tan JG, Coburn JW, Brown LE, Judelson DA. Effects of a single bout of lower-body aerobic exercise on muscle activation and performance during subsequent lower- and upper-body resistance exercise workouts. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2014;28(5):1235–1240. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000413

By Brittany Hammond
Brittany is a Certified Personal Trainer and freelance wellness writer with work in Livestrong, Verywell Fit, and more.